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Qld

Feb 18, 2010

Naked Aboriginal kids on postcards: the line between art and exploitation?

You can buy postcards featuring naked Aboriginal kids in newsagencies and Australia Post shops across the country. Why aren't these pictures treated with the same outrage as Bill Henson's photos of naked teens?

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Yesterday I walked through the Alice Springs Mall, stopped at a few tourist and souvenir shops and bought a few postcards. One group of postcards that caught my eye was those with pictures of naked or semi-naked Aboriginal children.

You can buy these cards in many outlets in the Alice and across the country — souvenir shops, backpacker hostels, newsagents, Australia Post, hotels. And if you are too slack to walk down the road, you can get them on the net — have a look for yourself here, here and here.

The release by NSW Attorney-General John Hatzistergos of his Government’s Report of the Child Pornography Working Party last month raised questions about what is child pornography in the strict sense. The postcards are a prime example.

postcard1

Sunbakers. Photo by Alastair McNaughton

postcard2

Photo: Peter Lik

Predictably more than a few of the media reports into the Working Party’s report concentrated on the kerfuffle over fine art photographer Bill Henson’s images of teens that caused a stir in 2008. There was some protest from the luvvies and civil libertarians about the proposal that “artistic merit” be removed as a defence to a prosecution for the production or possession of child porn.

But most of the media appear to have missed what is the real meat-and-potatoes in the report. As page 35 the report notes:

There is currently no uniform scale used by prosecuting authorities for depicting the level of seriousness of child pornography images used in child pornography prosecutions.

That is, there is no objective measure by which the courts can assess the severity or otherwise of one image depicting abuse against another. The Working Party recommended that the joint Queensland and Federal Police adaption of a Microsoft program known as the Child Exploitation Tracking System (CETS) be implemented in all Australian jurisdictions.

CETS would provide the courts with prescribed categories based on escalating degrees of the seriousness of what would be categorised as Child Exploitation Material (CEM):

bobtable

It’s pretty clear that Henson’s photographs would fall firmly within CETS category 1, as would most of the postcards. As it states:

Depictions of Children with No Sexual Activity — Nudity, surreptitious images showing underwear nakedness, sexually suggestive posing, explicit emphasis on g-nital areas…

But there are issues other than the categorisation of the content of the postcards that warrant closer scrutiny.

Crikey spoke to Charlie King, an Aboriginal man who for many years has worked in the field of child protection and abuse prevention in the NT and currently runs a family violence awareness program for the charity CatholicCare. We asked King if people would bother to produce or buy postcards that depicted naked white, Asian or Middle-Eastern kids?

“Just try it! Go and get a photographer, shoot the exact same photos with white kids and put them in the shops and see what happens. There would be an absolute outcry, an absolute outcry. It would be totally unacceptable,” he said.

“This gets back to the double-standards and stereotyping of Aboriginal people that we see far too often. Many non-indigenous people have very little understanding of what indigenous people are all about.

“Who wants to buy these pictures of naked Aboriginal kids? Some of these kids are very close to teenage age … I don’t think shops should be allowed to sell this sort of image. I think if you asked people what they thought of these postcards that a majority of people would say that some of this stuff is very close to pornographic.”

Crikey also showed the postcards to Professor Larissa Behrendt, of the Jumbunna Indigenous House of Learning at UTS, during her recent visit to the Ampilatwatja walk-off camp 300 kilometres north-east of Alice Springs. She called them “disturbing”.

“On my way out here I’ve just driven past maybe a dozen huge NT intervention signs that have ‘no p-rnography’ plastered all over them. Knowing the strict line that the Rudd government takes on these issues it is rather disturbing to see these postcards that are so exploitative of Aboriginal kids,” she said. “The cruel irony is that when you see all of these punitive measures put in place to supposedly make people ‘better parents’, nothing has been done to stop this kind of blatant commercial exploitation of Aboriginal kids.”

Crikey contacted three of the photographers involved in the production of these postcards: Craig LaMotte, Peter Lik (postcards here) and Alastair McNaughton.  At the time of going to press only one responded.

McNaughton states on the back of his postcards and website that:

Royalties from his Australian Aboriginal images series of postcards, art prints and bookmarks are paid to the Aboriginal communities and Alastair maintains a close relationship with his friends there.

And, as McNaughton explained to Crikey, his photographers have a “background and context”, which should be considered. He says he lived and worked in the western desert community for four years before forming his Desert Images business.

“These photographs were all taken with the support and encouragement of the parents or guardians of the children and a legal agreement was made through the Aboriginal Legal Service,” he said. “This has been an ongoing agreement since 1996. The intention of my photographs has always been to show the more positive side to Aboriginal life in remote communities. I believe they suggest the joy and innocence of childhood.”

But King says parental permission is not enough.

“There are times when parents are going to make arrangements and sign things that they say are OK and that they are going to get paid money for it. I think we need legislation that backs up a system of classification,” he said. “And despite some photographers being able to strike a deal with mum and dad, there still should be strong legislation that prevents that being distributed. But there is a broader moral issue outside of that — we should not be peddling this sort of image around.”

Professor Behrendt points to the importance of context when considering this issue.

“Bill Henson’s photographs explore issues of teenage sexuality but we see them in the context of an art gallery,” she says. “These photographs are not taken with any notions of creativity or exploring a theme or trying to capture a moment that is meaningful and poignant — these postcards are just about crass commercialisation, that is all. The sandy beaches of Australia on young Aboriginal bums.”

Bob Gosford — Editor of The Northern Myth

Bob Gosford

Editor of The Northern Myth

Darwin-based journalist and The Northern Myth blogger

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108 comments

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108 thoughts on “Naked Aboriginal kids on postcards: the line between art and exploitation?

  1. Venise Alstergren

    NAUTA: Oh dear, I appear to have hit a nerve.

    It is well known in psychiatric circles that “From banning imagined child abuse to vilifying homosexuality”, (Tony Abbott makes a fair stab at it. Fundamentalist Catholics and believers in the Prophet, are constantly told to abhor homosexuality) “no one who would ban an action” (SEXUAL)”is free of a repressed desire to participate in the same action.” I would suggest you ask a psychiatrist what they think.

    I’m with you all the way up until the final two lines in para one. Right up to the moment you come on about protecting ‘our kiddies’.

    At no stage did I suggest that BG was vilifying homosexuality. As you say, I’m not stupid.

    Yes, my comments tend to be overly long, but for some strange reason I antagonise people. People who should read-correctly-what I saying. So I have to spend hours re-explaining what it was that I said. For example you thought I’d accused Bob G of railing against homosexuality. Re-read until you are certain what the other person has said.

  2. Venise Alstergren

    GERARD: Perhaps we could initiate a positive move which would be adored by Bob Gosford, indeed all those other censors. It’s clear the whole country needs cleaning up, so why not start with those poor children who have no had the chance to think for themselves. I refer, of course, to those kiddies who are so offended by nudity.

    Re: The disgraceful sight of naked elephants is not to be tolerated. I call for action!

    Your suggestion was sound. We should start with children who are dragged off by their teachers for a school excursion to visit the zoo. At the tender age of ten to fourteen-when thirteen year olds have already started banging anything that moves. We should put out a line of organic, recycled, colour fast, washable, one size for pachyderms another size for otters and seals, and a very small size to cover (pun intended) prairie dogs and other small animals. To cover kangaroos and wallabies, we would need to provide space for a fifth leg.(tail).

    These items will come with flounces falling over an animal’s legs and over their genitalia. A bit like the piano-pants/long- johns which Victorian England used to put cover piano legs. And we all know how sexy piano legs can look. Not!

    Further, I would suggest our various zoos adopt the sensible system of Orthodox Jews, who find the naked female form to be unclean and offensive. All sexual congress must be via a hole in a large sheet. The zoos animals will just have to learn to put up with these restrictions.

    I’m sure they will ultimately understand that there a lot of people out there who get a sexual thrill from looking at animal and human nudity. When they get this thrill they feel guilty and they over compensate by making sure no one else will get the same thrill.

    This reversion to nineteenth century mores comes at a time when people (frightened at the pace with which we are progressing on the scientific front) finds the less intelligent members of our species increasingly subscribing to religious cults. It is then these same people get this desire to become dictators of our behaviour. The ultimate sickness.

  3. Venise Alstergren

    NAUTA: Well it is obvious that you are on the side of censorship. “That’s a much bigger fish to fry but will require some intellectual input, not emotive knee-jerk reactions.”

    Do you seriously believe that being offensive is going to trouble me? How risible. And how patronising.

    If you had read my posts you would know I’m very passionately against censorship. Of course I’ve written letters, had blogs printed in Crikey, the HS and the Age. I’ve written to various Federal MPs, have signed protests, and in separate blogs/comments in Crikey, and, taking my net wider I tackled; in deed, re Clive Hamilton. Having voted green for the past, I don’t know how many years, my vote would have gone to him.

    When Clive Hamilton stood as a candidate for my(where I live) seat of Higgins. I publicly spread the word that I refused to vote for a candidate who was in favour of Internet censorship.

    I doubt if it was my input, but it cheers me to think he was dumped. Comprehensively.

    Just because you are chicken-gutted please do not imagine your foes are made from your lily-livered mould.

    Finally, do you have to resort to piddling clichés? Boring!

  4. Nauta

    Gerard and Venise, if you really are worried about your liberties being curtailed why are you wasting time here and are not lobbying agains internet filtering? Thats a much bigger fish to fry but will require some intelectual input, not just emotive knee jerk reactions. Try Electronic Frontiers Australia. Have fun!

  5. gerard

    I am still waiting for the day that Abbott will be asked if he will encourage paid parental leave for same sex couples with young babies. Apart from that, it’s clear that those people rubbing up against that little elephant are obviously enjoying frottage with an underage animal.

    It should be banned, little children might be watching. The elephant footage was disgraceful and not much different from those photos of totally nude children. Ban anything unclothed, especially uncovered proboscis’.

  6. Nauta

    I see it differently to you clearly because to be honest I cringe when I imagine the following scenario: postcards are intended for tourists, right?! Most overseas travellers would have to be reasonably well educated/informed people, mostly younger people. These postcards are a representation of what we as a country are about, or what we’d like others to see us as. I imagine a young, say German, English…whatever person picking up a crappy souvenir of a kangaroo or imitation boomerang, made in Japan/China, and then picking up such a postcard (P Lick’s), and I try to imagine what they are thinking at that moment. Here we are, selling this image of aboriginal people as being some curiosity that we are enticing them to see, along with the koala, roo, red centre, etc. I find it embarrassing in the extreme. What do they think of us?! That we are some unevolved dumbf#@*s. How embarrassing! Paddling our fellow humans for profit. And as such, children who can not make their own informed decisions about such matters.

    Bob raised a number of issues in this article to raise awareness & for discussion, and at no point did he personally seek control over my life, or yours or to vilify homosexual people. You say “no one who would ban an action is free of a repressed desire to participate in the same action.” – I am curious to know how on earth do you arrive at such a conclusion? It seems like an off the cuff remark that you have not thought through. I’d love to ban whaling but trust me – I have NEVER wanted to or considered participating in whaling! That was a stupid thing of you to say, but you don’t seem like a stupid person. Everything after that statement merely serves to discredit you because you are ranting. When it comes to comment, as with most things – less is more (but that would require you to stop and consider)! And sometimes it is smarter to say nothing. Cheers.

  7. Venise Alstergren

    NAUTA: “You really have it in for Bob G. Venise. Why?”

    It is nothing personal in any way at all. I do not know the man, I don’t follow his other writings, it was an accident that I happened to come across this post, I know almost nothing about him. Nor do I put him in a different category to Senator Conroy, Tony Abbott, Clive Hamilton, or any other person/censor.

    It is merely the complete dislike I have of people who would seek to control the lives of other people. Most particularly I find that people who would control our media in the name of ‘our kids’. From banning imagined child abuse to vilifying homosexuality, no one who would ban an action is free of a repressed desire to participate in the same action.

    This makes of them the ultimate hypocrites.

    Did you not notice the glee with which he picked up on child pornography?. Did you not notice how he seized on two rather amateur shots shots of naked children and is using them to tell everyone else what to think.

    It is all sickening thought-control; it is our thoughts that he would control. If you think any of the potential censors even think of ‘the children’, you are deluded. It is you he is gunning for! Both in the abstract and in the particular.

  8. Nauta

    You really have it in for Bob G Venise. Why?

  9. Venise Alstergren

    NAUTA: Did the man in question have any images in his camera/on his !Pod to prove he concentrated solely on children? Apparently not.

    It is interesting to notice how Bob Gosford knows every tinsy winsy fact about a pornographer. I’ll bet he couldn’t tell a Corot from a Caravaggio, or when Rembrandt painted himself as an old man. But, I’ll bet he knows the year when Fra Savanarola burnt his first load of apostates.

  10. Nauta

    There are two differences btw. the postcards in question and the latest report as I see it Gerard:
    1. The issue of consent (lack thereof) in the later case/news report, which is not very dissimilar I imagine to the two oiled up black kids on the postcards – who either did not consent or were unable to make informed consent
    2. The fact that the police later found ‘other’ photos on the man’s computer, whereas we don’t know whether there were any ‘other’ photos in the possession of the postcard ‘art photographer’.

    Suggesting higher fences etc. is ludicrous, but questioning or apprehending the stalking ‘photographer’ who turns out to be someone who get off on child pornography (and goodness knows whatever else he does) is entirely appropriate. The post is relevant to the original story. And what’s the bet the children swimming in their pool were white?!

  11. Venise Alstergren

    ELAN: I’m only going to make my comments once; so pay attention.

    Any condescension you read into my comments: comes from you. Not me.

    I am appalled by the huge chip you have on your shoulder. But it’s your problem, so you can carry the can.

    As usual you are totally wrong. Why do you have to ‘imagine’ how another person will do this that or the other? I’ve always had a problem with the word coloured being applied to humans. I remember reading how the South Africans condemned ‘Cape Coloured’ people.

    Finally: don’t you usually hunt in a pack?

  12. gerard

    Bob Gosford:

    Yes, and….?

    Does that make nudity of children bad? Are you suggesting that someone taking pictures through a fence ( out of a population of 21 million) is a reason for banning images of nude children all together?

    Are you suggesting that hordes of people are going around peeping through fences in the hope of seeing nude children?

    Perhaps we should all go to Bunnings and build higher fences and plug all holes with gap filler?

  13. Bob Gosford

    An update from the ABC of 10 March:

    Photos of naked kids taken through fence: police

    Posted Wed Mar 10, 2010 4:40pm AEDT

    A man has been charged after allegedly taking photographs of naked children in a backyard pool at Bondi in Sydney’s east.

    Police were called yesterday by the father of one of the children who said a man working at a neighbouring property was taking photos of the children through a hole in the fence.

    Police searched the man’s home and found a number of child pornography images on a camera and also seized a computer.

    The 66-year-old Rosebery man has been charged with possession of child pornography.

    He has been granted conditional bail and will face court later this month.

    Lin to the story here: http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010/03/10/2842131.htm?section=justin

  14. Nauta

    Lets look at what Reverse discrimination is, because it’s a furphy that it is ‘discrimination’!
    “Reverse discrimination” (also known as positive or benign discrimination)[1] is discrimination against members of a dominant or majority group, or in favor of members of a minority or historically disadvantaged group. Groups may be defined in terms of race, gender, ethnicity, or other factors. This discrimination may seek to redress social inequalities where minority groups have been denied access to the same privileges of the majority group. In such cases it is INTENDED TO REMOVE DISCRIMINATION THAT MINORITY GROUPS MAY ALREADY FACE.”

    So, why bandy that term so carelessly and hide behind it as though its something bad?
    I do not recall the author stating anywhere that those ‘children were pornographic’ – I’d better re-read it.
    Those ‘mythical old men’ are not very mythical at all, they ARE everywhere amongst us and for all we know they may well be represented amongst the commentators here dressed up as libertarians!

  15. gerard

    Totally silly.

    Kevin Rudd spoke that he was against the art of Bill Henson. If Mr Rudd belongs to this group of being ‘reasonable persons’ then art stands a great risk of being banned.
    Start covering up bananas.

  16. Venise Alstergren

    BOB GOSFORD: This is still censorship. Worse, it reduces the viewing audience to the level of one of those mythical old men, dressed in raincoats traipsing the art centres of this nation so as they may masturbate in front of photos of pre-pubescent teenagers. I say mythical because in all my years of visiting art galleries I have never encountered such a person. Neither has anybody else that I know of.

    “That means it covers depictions that reasonable persons would, in all the circumstances, regard offensive.” Precisely. Which brings me back to your offensive article. How do you arrive at the thought that those children were pornographic? Is it because you are a member of the rural brigade that you see such filth where none existed: or are you being overly sensitive because the children are Aboriginal? If the latter; you are merely indulging in a reverse form of racism.

  17. Bob Gosford

    OK – here is an update from the ABC today 9 March. You can see the original report here: http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010/03/09/2840990.htm?section=justin

    Art or porn? New laws to paint clearer picture

    By Lindy Kerin

    The New South Wales Government says it will introduce laws into Parliament this week to clarify what is art and what is child pornography. The issue was highlighted nearly two years ago in the case of artist Bill Henson, whose photographic exhibition of naked children sparked intense community debate.

    NSW Attorney-General John Hatzistergos says the laws being introduced tomorrow will clear up any confusion.

    “The new definition will encompass what is termed child abuse material,” he said.
    “That means it covers depictions that reasonable persons would, in all the circumstances, regard offensive.”
    Mr Hatzistergos says that is “where the person is a child who is a victim [of] cruelty, physical abuse, the child is engaged or is apparently engaged in a sexual pose or sexual activity”.
    He says it will also apply when the child is in the presence of someone engaging in any of these activities or “where the private parts of the person [who] appears to be a child are shown”.

    Mr Hatzistergos says the new laws will also scrap the defence of artistic merit in the use of child pornography images.

    “There isn’t a clear line between child pornography and art, and it’s for that reason the law seeks to draw a clearer provision,” he said.

    Concerns

    Members of the arts community say while they were initially concerned about the new laws, they now believe they could help artists.

    The National Association for the Visual Arts (NAVA) is working on a set of protocols for police to use in assessing artwork.

    “If the DPP and the police agree to adopt our recommended protocols, then it may actually be advantageous for artists or would put them in a fairer position of assessment,” NAVA spokeswoman Tamara Winikoff said.

    “Instead of relying on people who know nothing about art to make those decisions, the decisions would be made on the basis of recommendations by people who are experts in that field.”

    Ms Winikoff says under the new laws, Henson’s work would not be considered pornographic because the work was given an unrestricted rating by the classification board.

    However the cost of gaining classification concerns the Arts Law Centre of Australia.

    Executive director Robyn Ayres says it is an expensive and time-consuming exercise.

    “I don’t have the costs off the top of my head, but they’re in the hundreds of dollars that [artists] would have to pay to have the work classified,” she said.

    “And obviously, if it’s in the middle of an exhibition, then that’s a problem as well because there’s a time factor involved.”

  18. Elan

    “ELAN: ‘My mother was coloured’. Really? What colour was she?

    I’m being pedantic but ‘My mother was black; part Indian, Tamil’ To me is a much easier concept for me to grasp’ than using the word coloured. It’s ambiguous.” **Vintage VenAl!!!**
    ___________________________

    Writers have to be perhaps a wee tad more subtle than posters, who-within reason-can be somewhat more frank…
    ___________________________

    VenAl, indeed you are being pedantic, but I KNEW if that were picked up on;…it would be by you!

    (I scored a $50 on the other thread about being banned by a jellied spine writer. I SAID you would respond with a raucous MEEOOWWWWW,- and yer’ did!! Thanks!).

    You don’t give a rats arse about using the terminology ‘coloured’;-you picked up on it to have a shot at me!

    But OK. Let me respond. ‘Coloured’ was used with some thought. Why? because it encompasses a range of darker skinned folk-without going into their origins (you want to make something of that???-I will respond with vigour..).

    I chose to use a generic term because I chose to keep some things private. There was no agenda………and there was no shame ( you want to take me on on that one ducky??).

    I have CHOSEN to respond to your question, I didn’t need to, but you are such a bloody strafing little blow fly, that such explanation is akin for me to using a repellent!

    LOOK at your posts VenAl: you not only HAVE to be right;-you HAVE to do so in the most condescending manner!

    Go right ahead, irritating others-but DON’T try it with me, you KNOW that I am all too happy to respond!!
    ___________________________

    Those children WERE exploited. AGAIN: I am uncomfortable with the one with the two boys in particular-a very valid point was raised-they DO seem to have oil on their bodies.

    AGAIN: one can make one’s own judgment call on the nature of those pictures, but the greater issue is the one raised here-which has largely been ignored: because these are indigenous children, are they fair game? Are they less important?

    Where is the HUGE outcry that occurred over Hensonart?
    __________________

    And VenAl?- cut the crap about ‘sand on bums so that you can see their crack’.

    That shows YOUR preoccupation. That’s a worry…
    ____________________

    Right. I’m of ta ta’s for a coupla days- but I look forward to a deep and meaningful VenAl.

  19. Venise Alstergren

    BOB GOSFORD: Speaking as a professional ‘Art’ photographer, I’m telling you those shots were posed.

  20. Bob Gosford

    Nauta – you, like Venise, will just have to wait for all to be revealed – excuse the pun…

  21. Nauta

    Bob, if you take another careful look, Peter Liks children are covered in baby oil – too shiny to be water, (water slides off the skin, and the oil gives the sand sometehing to stick to) – they are definitely posed. Somoene has rubbed oil all over them. I would also say that I have never observed children that age walking together holding hands. DEFINITELy posed for – not just something Lick came across.

  22. Bob Gosford

    Venise – I haven’t “lost” any of your comments – this is a Crikey page and is moderated by someone in the extensive Crikey empire! If this piece was over at The Northern Myth then I would be responsible for moderating the comments.

    And, unfortunately – for you – I have other things to do than jump to your prompts and answer your questions.

    For your information, to my knowledge at least one, and probably both of the images shown here are unposed.

    And soon I’ll have some more details about the circumstances in which one of these images was taken and what has happened since.

    Perhaps a little patience?

  23. Venise Alstergren

    BOB GOSFORD: It would appear that you’ve lost another one of my comments. At the same time you have made no attempt to answer my questions. On top of that you have failed to print any of my questions.

    Just another member of the Deep North, I daresay.

  24. gerard

    In my country and in some of my villages, women are of high libido and often walking around lusting for congress, same as men.

    This is why, in some shops and in some villages, under age bananas are covered up with scarves and only men go buy them. In some villages and some shops zuchinis also covered with big white drop sheets. Bratislavan women very lively also.

    http://oosterman.wordpress.com/

  25. Bob Gosford

    I’ll get around to answering the somewhat curious points that Venise raises in due course but for now I note the following article in today’s Age by Robert Nelson, Associate Dean at Monash Uni Faculty of Art & Design entitled “There’s no sense in treating children who pose for artists as employees” – you can find it here: http://www.theage.com.au/news/entertainment/arts/no-sense-treating-children-who-pose-for-artists-as-employees/2010/02/25/1266687129095.html?page=fullpage#contentSwap1

    There are a number of very interesting points that Nelson raises, including what he considers to be the absolute hash that the Australia Council’s made if their recently-developed protocols for artists working with children.

    For present purposes I note the following comment: “The law in the populous states forbids employing a child in the nude; so no naked child can ever appear in art again in Victoria, NSW, Queensland and WA.”

  26. Nauta

    Pardon me; that was Venise I was responding to (Bob is merely quoted in that posting)

  27. Nauta

    So Bob the builder,
    I wonder who rubbed the oil on their bodies, and why?
    (apart from being visible/shiny, sand needs something to stick to).
    I wonder if sand on the bottom of white kids (yours perhaps) would be half as cute? No? Why not?

  28. Bob the builder

    A huff and a puff!

  29. Venise Alstergren

    BOB THE BUILDER: It takes prurience to look at an image, book, movie, work of art; whatever, and straight away to look for possible sexual connotations. Also, it takes prurience to get sexually outraged by what you consider to be offensive, then to impose your limitations on the public at large.

    I looked at the images, then I saw they had been posed shots. This destroys what the photographer intend to do. Two naked kids on a beach walking together would have been a great subject matter. To have put the sand on their bums was too cute by half.

    As I said in another comment, this is my reaction as a potential art critic. But it took Bob to draw a sex-ploitation scenario. One I certainly hadn’t picked up.

    Double standards and black sex-ploitation could also be used as a catch-phrase to the person who has written the regrettable article, Bob Gosford.

  30. Venise Alstergren

    ELAN: ‘My mother was coloured’. Really? What colour was she?

    I’m being pedantic but ‘My mother was black; part Indian, Tamil’ To me is a much easier concept for me to grasp’ than using the word coloured. It’s ambiguous.

  31. Bob the builder

    How can you impute prurience? This is about consent and about double standards.
    Anyone can knock down a straw man, well done.

  32. Venise Alstergren

    BOB GOSFORD: Was it the sand on the kids’ bums that set you off? Drawing attention to their cracks, as it were?

    Will you be happy when every child and every woman has a burqua over him/her?

    I don’t think much of the shots, they are too posed. But that’s my aesthetic as a potential art critic rather than trying to preach to others how they should react.

    I’m amused by your patronising acceptance of Bill Henson’s shots on the basis they would be hanging in an art gallery. Whereas the photographer of the shots which cause you so much angst may also have had his work in a gallery.

    I’m sorry but I have to come back to my original point that you could be using your own prurience as your moral guide; not facts.

  33. Bob Gosford

    Venise – I love offensive comments – others may not! I’ll follow it up with the powers that be. Maybe a comment based on reason rather than emotion might be viewed more kindly?

  34. Venise Alstergren

    BOB GOSFORD: I wrote an offensive comment to you yesterday. It was deleted, along with my name. Today’s comment was much more tame. Still not printed.

  35. SBH

    James Bennetts, pots & kettles? so ‘wanker’ is not name calling. As for the ‘An Aborigine with a degree? Ridiculous!’ stuff ………

  36. Bob the builder

    I don’t really agree about the kiddie-porn angle (I think this prudery masquerading as concern for kids has got way out of hand), but I agree with Charlie King that there is a double-standard.
    What I really dislike is the “ethno-porn” – you see it on the fridges of white people in the “Aboriginal industry” or in the photo collections of intrepid overseas travellers. “Ooooo, they’re SO cute!”. Yuck. I don’t think many white people would like Japanese (for example) tourists cooing over their kids and saying “Aren’t these white kids so cute!” and insisting on taking photos with them and putting said photos on their fridge as proof of their “bond” with the white people.
    And don’t get me started with the same style of photo of adults…..

  37. Elan

    Weeeellll, you would know, if youse was looking in their direction wouldn’t you?

    He who doth not agree with me;-he is noisy.

    (Still, that’s not too bad. After all you could have referred to ‘trolls’ and ‘sock puppets’ (whatever they are).

    OR: that good old reliable….PC).

  38. Nauta

    “The term democracy comes from the Greek language and means “rule by the (simple) people”. The so-called “democracies” in classical antiquity (Athens and Rome) represent precursors of modern democracies. Like modern democracy, they were created as a reaction to a concentration and abuse of power by the rulers. Yet the theory of modern democracy was not formulated until the Age of Enlightment (17th/18th centuries), when philosophers defined the essential elements of democracy: separation of powers, basic civil rights / human rights, religious liberty and separation of church and state.”

    Universal Declaration of Human Rights: Article 1.
    “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.”

    Gerard, you are not acting like anyone’s ‘brother’.
    And I don’t know what you are arguing for/against. You just seem to want to have the last word on everything as though you are representative of…..?? What/who? Definitely not ‘enlightenment’, not from what I can make out.

  39. James Bennett

    @Elan

    That plan would have only really worked if you hadn’t responded at all.

    Thanks for making the effort ( and again with the name calling ? what are you lot – grade 3 )

  40. Elan

    I don’t bother with people like you Jimmy Bollocks.

  41. gerard

    Geez, don’t let the many replies from the noisy on Crikey be an argument against democracy. The trouble with words is that you never know from whose mouth they come from.
    http://oosterman.wordpress.com/

  42. James Bennett

    Why do the defenders of the ‘Custodians of the Land ‘ always go so heavy on the name calling?

    @Elan
    Your theory about what offends one person should offend all people is pretty silly if you think it through. At some stage we’d still need arbiters like your good self to decide what sort of offensiveness to whom is most important.

    Of course this does sound as if it could be your birthright – ie ” Elan -Costodian of Offensiveness”

    A tip from me with that gig would probably be to try not be always offended, maybe let the trivial stuff slide a bit so when important stuff comes along you have a little credibility left.

  43. Elan

    ‘Perhaps, if I had gone to school in Australia I would be more clear-sighted (or muddled) about the issues?’ (Quote: Gerard)

    Reckon so, socksy. Though I didn’t go to skool in Stralia, and I’m not confused or muddled in any way. Funny that.

    You see soxs, it isn’t what YOU see as offensive…

    And the issue Bob Gosford brings to us is WHY there has been no outcry about these photo’s. It’s a fair guess that MANY White tourists have seen them?

    And WHY Indigenous Australian parents were not approached for THEIR permission.

    We will make a judgment on the behaviour of White society,-and we make a judgment on the behaviour of Indigenous society.

    But a different judgment.

    In the latter case, the judgment is ‘who do you think you are?, what right do you have to be offended at what I don’t see as offensive? ‘

    Not kind. A double standard. So hypocritical.

    (btw: Soxs;- do you think the boys (my brothers) were ‘oversensitive’ because they didn’t like being called niggers? Just curious.)

  44. gerard

    Nauta:
    Now that is a well measured and good addition to the debate.

    I had another good look at the picture postcards but hard as I looked I did not see any exploitation of kids or denigration of aboriginal culture. In fact, they could have been kids in Bali or BanglaDesh, happily oblivious of any shame or guilt about their bodies. (OK, the captions tell us they are Aboriginal Kids).

    People would do well to ask why the knots in their knickers about this issue? Perhaps it is the Anglo culture or perhaps the assuaging of a conscience riddled with shortcomings towards their own and the indigenous people. Perhaps our culture of hiding behind venetians and closed doors. Our shortcomings in educating children to become healthy adults in mind and body. Our highest rates in the OECD of unwanted teenage pregnancies together with the uneviable record of having one of the world’s highest rates of childhood obesety.

    Let, me just have another look at those photos…… No, sorry, I still don’t see abuse or exploitation of a race or a culture. Perhaps, if I had gone to school in Australia I would be more clear-sighted (or muddled) about the issues?

  45. Nauta

    Gerard, the self appointed guardian of the free speech (and god knows whatever else) – your posts show what [Edit: the language in this post is offensive and has been (admittedly late) edited. Play nice.]

  46. SBH

    due to the editor induced time lag I need to point out that my thanks went to Elan

  47. SBH

    Thanks comrade. I don’t know if you’re right but I agree with your observations. I thought I’d ty to be less lippy (especially with our mutual freind Venise) but it didn’t work. I’ll try again

    Skepticus Autartikus view that Batchelor college teaches an “offensive separatist identity ideological nonsense, which ironically and tragically comes mainly from white cultural theorists.” is innacurate, reductionist , deeply offensive and ignorant.

    James Bennett goes on to question EBM’s Aborigineity in a way he would never even think to question a person who purports to be white.

    These veiws treat a deep and unhealed schism in our country in a childish dismissive way.

    This denial of identity has been a fundamental tactic in the white world’s dealings with Aboriginal people. It continues to cause deep hurt and distress to Aboriginal people of alll ages and across the country.

    Bob Gosford’s article is about the dichotomy in how we treat images of idnigenous children and white children. How ironinc that it resulted in an attacks on an Indigenous institution and an Indigenous person which queried the validity of Batchelor as an indigenous institution in the most ignorant and high-handed colonialist manner and EBM’s Aboriginality. It is difficult to think of a way the posters could have been less humane and more dismissive of a persons identity.

    Prior to sailing into print on issues of which you clearly possess very limited knowledge read these three books. “This whispering in our hearts” by Henry Reynoolds which desibes the history on deliberate and calculated dispossesion of Aboriginal Australian, “Black Politics” – Sarah Maddison, this will give you an insight into some of the major contemporary themes in the relationship between white and black Australia and lastly, “Why warriors lie down to die” by Richard Trdgen which goes some way to opening up the veil between our two cultures. Whitefellas all three but with more humanity and empathy in their cast off toe nails than you two could muster in a lifetime. I’d suggest you seek out some Aboriginal people to talk to but I think it would be better to save them form exposure to you.

    Choke on that editor and think deeply about why that racist crap got a run on this site without challenge

  48. James Bennett

    @SBH

    I agree.
    I feel most offended and denigrated by these obnoxious personal attacks.

    I hope the moderator steps in and puts a stop to them.

    Thanks for your support.

  49. Elan

    When I popped back in for a squizz earlier SBH, your post of 2.27pm was not there!

    (I guess they take it into a back alley and dissect it…, after their attention is drawn to it of course…).

    I wholeheartedly support your comment of 4.42pm.

    Venal gave me a right bollocking elsewhere, and was expecting possible moderation.

    I’m damn glad it did not happen. She is entitled to give her views about me-God knows I can reciprocate!

    Within the obvious boundaries, I fail to understand some decisions. There IS no consistency, and not just on Crikey.

    One of the things that ARE consistent though, is the influence of the person making the complaint. Crikey is a fairly extensive site,-moderators/editors cannot be everywhere. It stands to logical reason that someone draws their attention to posts which offend the complainant.

    Say what you like Crikey-it DOES depend on who that is.

    But it IS common on forums.

    I fell foul of this on the Poll bludger, which is run like a private club. NOTHING is allowed to upset the regulars-particularly one.

    Maybe I need to learn to be ‘a good girl’.

    Pigs arse.

  50. SBH

    Sorry, apparently the crikey editor thinks that it is more appropriate to allow denigration of peoples identity and fundamental beliefs by white wankers than it is to reject such perniciuos rubbish.

    James Bennetts hw would you know what an Aborigine might say?

  51. SBH

    And it’s not ‘in’ Darwin any more than Wollongong is ‘in’ Sydney. The ignorance that parades through these posts is just gobsmacking

  52. SBH

    Skepticus Autartikus as usual you are [Edit]. Batchelor is a college for Aborigines which delivers a range of post school courses in a culturally appropriate way. Your description is [Edit].

    James Bennetts with your ignorance of the original culture of this land on your sleeve. Aboriginal people used to own this land now they try in many different ways to maintain a central philosophical belief that they are responsible for the land. read some more books or better yet talk to some Aborigines before dashing off your illinformed colonialst perceptions.

  53. Elan

    Gerard, don’t be daft; there’s a good boy!

  54. gerard

    And while we are at it, let’s also ban those photo’s of white life-savers at Bondi beach in those skimpy swimmers, bums sticking out and all. Blatant racism, depicting whites as hedonistic and insensitive oafs.
    The cliched cultural images of those three sisters at Katoomba? And what about the cavorting of those open air chess players near the Museum station, Queens over Bishops, bestiality with horses disquished as Knights, underage pawns en passanting away, indeed?

    Who benefits? Tourism and Opera House card selling merchants. We need a gigantic venetian blind to cover up our shame that is Australia.

    http://oosterman.wordpress.com/

  55. Nauta

    ‘Kangaroos, ‘cuddly’ koalas, crocodiles, cute aboriginal children – this is what you will find when you come to Australia, or travel around.’ = postcard implication.

    This is an insightful article on a multifaceted subject, opening a can of worms but I fear the main message has been lost on most; this is primarily about insidious and pure and simple – racism because the crass commercialisation of images is insensitive and disrespectful in the portrayal of aboriginal children/culture as one of tourist attractions, unique to Australia, and as such is an extension on level of imagery conjured up by our flora and fauna, exactly as aborigines in this country were perceived as, not so long ago.

    Who benefits? – Tourism industry. The rest of us, by condoning use of such photos are complicit not only in exploitation of their culture but perpetuating the racism implicit in these photos.

  56. Elan

    ‘Stick to your role as the child’s parent, rather than re-exploiting those children as a platform to spew your ideological bilge.’

    ‘……..that’s your problem sister, not the rest of the nations.’ (Quote: SA) (‘sister’ no less!)
    _________________

    Your post of 6.42pm explains this vituperative diatribe. (What were you saying about idealism??)
    Yet again the indigenous Australian has no right to an opinion?? Isn’t this where we came in?

    (Alas, our obviously fragile understanding of the sometimes subtle differences of opinion, has been rendered asunder). BUT:

    ‘People do different on their standards and boundaries, and we should always be sensitive to the possibility that we have not properly thought through our own boundaries on what we consider beyond the pale.’

    ………..this I agree with.
    ______________________

    (‘I feel for you, and hope you can find peace and join the tribe of Australians and the broader family of humanity.’ (Quote: SA).

    Weeeellll, this would depend on the warm embrace of the master race wouldn’t it? Which is most definitely not forthcoming.

    And DON”T give me any tripe about Aboriginal Australia not wanting to assimilate. Australia has its own apartheid, and you damn well know it!)
    ________________

    Try talking to me like you’ve just talked to EBM and we will lock and load…………brother, because I’ve damn well had it with this ‘you’ fit in with ‘us’ crap.

  57. Skepticus Autartikus

    James

    The “Batchelor Institute” is a sort of tertiary institution for Aborigines in Darwin, which focuses largely on offensive separatist identity ideological nonsense, which ironically and tragically comes mainly from white cultural theorists.

    https://www.batchelor.edu.au/

  58. James Bennett

    Come on you lot, EBM isn’t genuine.

    No one with a degree spells Batchula like that and only a complete wanker annoints themselves ‘ Custodian of this Land ‘

    It doesn’t sound like something an aboriginal would say – it sounds more like something a white Crikey letter writer would use to describe their ideal noble black fella.

    In fact even the title ‘educated black mum’ sounds straight out of the Crikey phrase book.

  59. Skepticus Autartikus

    EBM

    I regard you as a human being and as an Australian, not as some object of curiosity to be singled out from the rest of the nation, and given almost scientific classification of indigenous as though you were a platypus or eucalyptus tree. The tone of your posts suggests you prefer to be so singled out. I feel for you, and hope you can find peace and join the tribe of Australians and the broader family of humanity.

    In the meantime, I will not indulge and abett this bizarre – and somewhat masochistic – desire to return to the days when Aborigines were legally constituted along with fauna and flora. If you consider this as ‘having a go’ at you, that’s your problem sister, not the rest of the nations.

  60. educated black mum

    In response to a few people firstly the man who uses the example of taking a photo of his grandson at soccer , this is totally different this picture was taken without our knowledge and then made into a postcard and is still on sale today . Have a go all you like at Indigenous people and Batchelor Institute , we have survived a lot worse.

  61. Skepticus Autartikus

    EBM

    Your protests as the actual parent of these children is the most important fact in this issue. Having said that, even as recently as ten years ago, Australians were not as on-edge about representations of child nudity, or about people taking our photos in casual, public settings.

    I remember being shocked, taken-aback, embarrassed, and even a little ashamed, when about 4 years ago – just when mobile phones first appeared with inbuilt cameras – I was having a quiet beer on my own in a pub at about 4 p.m. I was using my mobile, when this guy charges over and demands I stop invading his privacy, and to put my “camera” away.

    So I wonder if 10 years ago, you were really all that opposed to your children being photographed? Did you object? Your post unfortunately substitutes a misinformed rant about you being some ‘custodian’ and related victim ideology you would have picked up from your “Batchelor Institute.”

    Stick to your role as the child’s parent, rather than re-exploiting those children as a platform to spew your ideological bilge.

  62. Elan

    What the…!!

    Computer glitch.

    >>>>>You were the wrong colour to warrant it.<<<<<<<<
    ____________________________

    It WOULD be interesting to hear the point of view of the photographer.

  63. Elan

    OK. I’ll be good. I’ll say nothing to James Bollocks.

    I don’t know how to respond to your post EBM, without sounding patronising.

    I will say this though;-when I first came to Oz over thirty years ago, I took a trip up to the Centre on the old Ghan. I recall taking photographs of Indigenous Australians.

    They just sat there,-they were used to it. I took those photo’s as if they were specimens!

    I should know better. My mother is coloured. My brothers were darker than she was. They were called niggers. I pass for White-lucky old me! ( though I was advised to keep the ‘colour’ in my background quiet soon after coming here! I did the opposite.).

    I don’t know when my attitude as a ‘tourist’ came to me, but I don’t have those pictures, I don’t know when I got rid of them.

    The specific issue here is how we treat Indigenous Australians with little respect, compared to the dear ol’ Whitey.

    The issue of exploiting children IS relevant here, how they will react later in life is more important to me then the aquiescence of their parents (Hensonart).

    However in your case, parental agreement/aquiescence was not even sought. YOU have now told us that. You are the wrong colour tacquiescenceo warrantacquiescence it.

    THAT is the issue here. ANY justification of such, will make/makes me so damn depressed.
    We don’t seem to care. It’s the 21st century, and STILL we learn nothing.

    I saw the picture of the toddlers as inoffensive,- unlike the posed picture of the boys, which I don’t like.

    What is relevant of course is how YOU found it/them. How easily we forget that.

  64. Ms Naughty

    Bob thanks for your clarifying replies.

    This then is really about copyright, in a way, and the ethics of consent when it comes to being photographed. With photography for commercial gain, I do fully support the idea of the subjects giving consent and being compensated. It’s only fair. If this hasn’t happened, then it’s a problem.

    The other issue raised is the stereotyping occurring with postcards: here’s a kangaroo, a koala, an aborigine… For want of a more coherent description it’s all very 1960s.

    And yet the capitalist in me says that if you are happy to be involved in that stereotyping and are fairly compensated for that, OK then. Indeed, if indigenous people were fully involved in the creation of such art, dodgy though it may be, then good luck to them if it makes them money.

    I’m still uncertain that it’s fair to say the kids in the pics above have been psychologically harmed. As someone has mentioned, you can’t see their faces, the work is artistic, it depicts them as beautiful. I see them as very positive images.

  65. CID

    I guess there’s no moderation on comments. Even Americans get through (mom?!) . Thanks for your input James, you’ve certainly furthered the discussion.

  66. Bob Gosford

    Oh, dear. I will leave the predictable and deserved response to Mr Bennett’s post to EBM.

    I’m sure she will have a lot of fun with him. Perhaps next time he might like to read, and think about, what he has written before he presses the “Enter” key.

    And lets rise just a little above cheap shots against people you don’t, and are never likely to, know…please.

  67. James Bennett

    @Educated black mom,

    surely you taketh the piss.

    Mom and Dad with Batchelor degrees ( I guess you mean from the Batchelor Institute rather than the conventional slightly differently spelt meaning )

    And a Masters in Indigenous Studies for yourself , i guess that’s why you assume you are custodian of this land.
    That’s a pretty big brief for any human what with the study and being a mom and everything – do you do a course to be custodian or does just being born qualify you?

    Anyway good luck with it , how’s it going so far ?

  68. daveliberts

    Gerard, there’s a world of difference between catching a happy snap of your grandson and taking commercial photographs of a situation which common sense would dictate would require at least parental consent but hopefully also the consent of the children. My issue with this story is not the content of the postcards – how we as a society have managed to lose our understanding that not all nudity is sexual is beyond me – but EBM’s statement that no consent was sought by a commercial photographer taking pictures of naked kids.

  69. gerard

    So, let me get this straight.

    My primary school grandsons play soccer and when I take a photo it might inadvertently include another young player. I quickly walk over to the team leader and ask the name of the other young player. I then get onto the megaphone and inquire if the parent/s of the extra player is available for consultation and consent?

    I then get back to my camera and discover my grandsons have finished playing long ago and are now queuing up for a nice fat sausage roll.

    Don’t worry,I’ll soon avert my eyes when eating a banana but I also think Australia has gone nuts.
    http://oosterman.wordpress.com/

  70. Bob Gosford

    CID – not an omission on my part and hopefully there will be more to come on EBM’s views on this matter. I’d not been able to contact her before we went to press. And the issues EBM raises are worthy of a closer look on their own. I have attempted on several occasions to contact the photographer in question – and will do so again for his views on these issues. Watch this space…

  71. CID

    Bob – a startling omission that changes the whole tone of the post!

    Educated Black Mum – If you weren’t consulted then that’s disgraceful behaviour on the part of the photographer and the publishers. Unfortunately it’s a murky area – the kids are in a public place and their faces aren’t easily identifiable so it would be hard to assert your rights. Your race and education are probably (hopefully) irrelevant, this is probably just a money grubber who clearly knows where he stands when he takes a photo. Mr Lik, if you’re reading this you need to set this right. Or at least present your side.

    It’s a pity this photo obviously, and rightly, makes you bitter EBM, it’s a beautiful shot that you should be able to be proud of.

  72. educated black mum

    In reply Micae

    Again not only are our children exploited but again and again we are stereotyped. Poor uneducated blacks , well you couldnt be further from the truth , the mother and father of the little girl to the left of the photo both have their Batchelor degrees and i am the mother of the little girl on the right and i have a Masters in Indigenous Studies.

    We were not consulted because Peter Lik thought we were too uneducated or too poor to speak to, we were not consulted about this picture because the undelying racism that unfortunately is a part of the fabric of this nation says its ok to treat the custodians of this land in this manner.

  73. Bob Gosford

    CID – and others – I’ve just noticed that the statement in my original piece to the effect that “I did not think that either Henson’s images or the postcards were porn” and only fell marginally within the first category of CEM material was a victim of the editing process…

  74. CID

    Bob, some interesting context. If the images are being used without permission and for especially monetary gain, then that’s grounds for action and appropriate relief – there is endless scope for that well enshrined and precedented. No problem there. As your link to the Sports Commission guidelines rightly state, releases are required for commercial use.

    However, the clear thrust of the post is equating these images to kiddie porn, not the rights or permissions or compensation. And that’s where my problem lies – to see porn in these images, to me, means the world has gone mad.

  75. Bob Gosford

    Thanks for all the responses so far.

    I considered responding earlier but it was only until I got to the comment from Skepticus Autartikus that I thought that any response from me would be little more that talking past those spouting confected outrage or who hadn’t actually read much of the piece.

    I do take issue with Ms Naughty and her note about “harm”. Harm in this context may not crystalise until some years later – perhaps due to the nature of the consent – if any – given by a child’s guardians or maybe because the subject may not realise that their image had been grabbed and exploited at all for some years after the shutter has been pressed.

    To my knowledge at least one of these postcards has been in the market for at least 10 years and is offered for sale across the country. And to the best of my knowledge no consent or arrangement with the subject or their guardians has ever been entered into – money for nothing.

    In this context the harm/s could perhaps be characterised as the economic loss of the opportunity to exploit the image – if indeed the subject/guardian thought that appropriate, the entirely subjective – and thus unpredictable – harm or injury that may be suffered by an individual or their guardians many years after the event when they realise – or suffer the mockery of their peers etc – that they have been portrayed in this manner without their knowledge or consent and finally, and this is particularly relevant in an Aboriginal or Torres Strait islander context, the continued unauthorised publication of images where a subject may have passed away.

    I also note the strict ethical and legal guidelines on the taking and use of images of children that are applied in other areas of society – for one example that doesn’t appear to have attracted too much controversy see the Australian Sports Commission’s “Guidelines on the Use of Images of Children” at:http://www.ausport.gov.au/supporting/ethics/resources/info_sheets/harassment-free_sport_information_sheet_series/images_of_children
    Other examples that may warrant closer attention are the professional conduct standards of the various associations that represent professional photographers and the vetting and police checks of individuals that apply to anyone working with children.

    Finally, as AR and John note, the beauty of these images is in the eye of the beholder. But, where there is no control over the taking or use of these images the harm done may be in the hearts and minds of the subjects.

  76. John

    Yes Bob, well posited. The problem is ours (adults), not theirs (kids).

  77. SBH

    Thanks Bob, this really has me thinking. I don’t know the answer but once again you’ve lifted the bar for Crikeys contributors.

  78. AR

    As the only agreement above seems to be that it is in the eye of the beholder, then we return to the proposition upon which all law is based – some people are not nice and do nasty things to other people (rape,steal,rob,kill,enslave ad nauseam).
    We try not to default to the lowest common denominator but there will always be progs.such as YesterdayLastWeek, CurrantBun and 37Minutes to excite moral panic and self righteous xenophobhia.

  79. Sancho

    If someone finds images of young children erotic, these postcards will appeal to them sexually. That doesn’t make them porn, nor does it in any way endorse or encourage tolerance of child abuse.

    There is almost no photograph in existence that won’t appeal to a fetishist out there somewhere, but why should millions of people be denied images of beauty or cuteness or meaning just because someone out there masturbates over them? It’s self-righteous moral prudery at its worst.

  80. Skepticus Autartikus

    No, it seems we are in total agreement. People do different on their standards and boundaries, and we should always be sensitive to the possibility that we have not properly thought through our own boundaries on what we consider beyond the pale.

  81. Elan

    RATEL: Pathetic.

    At least you acknowledge toxic-West. Perhaps there is more innocence in your mother country, I know not.

    But I’ll make no apology to you or anyone else for having concern about the exploitation (or perceived exploitation????-covering both sides here!) of children.

  82. Elan

    I DID grasp that SA ( I tried to print your tag in full, and kept getting it wrong-it’s the heat…).

    However, you also wrote THIS:

    ‘Henson consciously chose his models in the 10-16 range precisely because of the sexual charge he could generate from his black and white film, lighting, etc.’

    It is this remark I agree with, and I said so. Condemnation or otherwise..

    I also mentioned that we (people) vary in our views of things, even if in core agreement.

    Perhaps I put that badly?

  83. Ratel

    Pathetic. I come from Africa and you see nude children of both sexes up to age 10 running around all the time, and in many areas women go bare-breasted. Nobody looks twice, nobody gives a damn, FFS. Get rid of toxic western religions and we wouldn’t see all the BS.

  84. Ms Naughty

    The original prohibition on child pornography began because children were being harmed in the creation of those images. This should still be the primary criteria in determining if an image is child exploitation material: was the child actually hurt? That is why it’ is disturbing that cartoons are included in the CETS listing. With that we’re into the realm of trying to people from thinking dirty thoughts about kids and right there you’re on the slippery slope to thought crime.

    I look at those postcards and all I see are beautiful children enjoying themselves, sans clothes. It’s disturbing that others want to read sexuality into them and disturbing that paranoia is making us all nervous about depictions of childhood nudity. Can’t we celebrate the innocence that lets kids be unselfconsciously nude like that?

  85. Skepticus Autartikus

    Elan

    As I said, I am neither condemning nor condoning these particular snaps, I just wanted to highlight that either way, there still are significant differences between the two situations.

  86. Elan

    Oh for Heavens sake!! Not THAT again!!!

    We are discussing postcards here, so the response is on the bl…on the postcards! The stupid assumption that one cares little about other ‘greater’ issues as a result, is fallacious and absurd!!

  87. Elan

    Agree MICAE, you make a fair point.

    Also SKEPTICUS A. It’s a funny thing-we all have different views on things. I agree exactly about your comment on Hensonart. But I also found the picture of the boys on/by the rock discomforting.

    The usual clichés about seeing the human body as dirty/being PC (awww God! has THAT one been hijacked!), narrow minded etc., are a predictable consequence of such views. They are untrue for me.

    So the pictures shown here generate two issues,- for me at least.

  88. Greg Angelo

    Whether these children are of aboriginal descent or not is entirely irrelevant. What is relevant is the intention of the photographer in relation to the picture, and in particular his or her intended effect on the viewer. Try as I might, I see nothing pornographic in these images

    Purveyors of pornography specifically target their images to an audience which derives some pleasure from viewing the image. Protection of children from pornographic exploitation it is very important, but in these pictures I see nothing which should arouse any particular concern. If our yardstick becomes the impression or reaction of psychologically deficient individual then we are in serious trouble. On this basis, it could be considered that there is more pornography in the weekly promotional circulars in our letterbox showing curvaceous female bodies modelling underwear, or an increasing trend two sexualise the clothing of pre-teenage girls in these catalogues. By all means target serious pornographers, but leave the artists alone.

    Rather than get one’s rocks off about a postcard, it would be much better for people concerned with exploitation of aboriginal children to pressure government for more intervention in the health and welfare of aboriginal children who are caught in a politically correct minefield with some of them being substantially abused and neglected, but no corrective action can be taken for fear of “racism”. Such an activistinterventionwould be a much more noble cause than worrying about postcards.

  89. Skepticus Autartikus

    While I am neither condoning nor condemning the postcards, there are two huge differences between Henson’s photography:

    1. The age of the children. Henson consciously chose his models in the 10-16 range precisely because of the sexual charge he could generate from his black and white film, lighting, etc. Whereas these postcard photos are very naturalistic snaps of very young children running around nude at the beach, as Australian infants of all races do. They are neither suggestive nor manipulative as Henson’s were.

    2. Sadly, Australia has institutionalized different standards and laws for Aborigines compared to the rest of Australians. The irony is that people like Larrisa Behrendt are precisely the people who encourage and advocate for these differences, due to “the uniqueness of indigenous cultures’ you see.

  90. gerard

    Of course, the real exploitation of children are done by those who ignore the increasing incidence of diabetes 2 in obese children. Was it not Tony Abbott in the previous Government as health minister refusing to ban the advertsising of junk foods during TV’s childrens hour?

    Frooty Loops above everything he seems to have implied. ( Market forces)

    If you want to get tough on child exploitation look at the economic exploitation and not to photos. The kids in these photographs look at least healthy.

  91. Proxify

    Ladies, are you doing your laundry in the love of God? Halleluia! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8uTfD-XQFpA We’re going to Hell.
    Brought to you by the same folks behind: http://internet-censorship-australia.blogspot.com/ Heaven help us, Australia. Let the anointing flow!

  92. Proxify

    Oh dear, what a sick society we have become that anybody could suggest that there is anything remotely pornographic or lewd about these images. This country is going to the dogs. In the next week or so, legislation will be tabled in Parliament that will decide if Australia is going to fall into line with only China, Saudia Arabia and Iraq by being the only countries in the world to offer anything other than voluntary ‘opt-in’ filtering of the Internet. What is ‘inappropriate content’? Who decides what it is?

    Do you think this is about simply filtering ‘porn’ at the ISP level? If so, how terribly wrong you are. The biggest issue is the ‘opt-in’ aspect [which we are not being given the option of]. If ‘you’ wish to shield your family from perceived threats, then use a commercially available or Govt. subsidised ‘Net Nanny’ type service. Zero problem.

    That is entirely the prerogative of each family. It is the fact that Rudd and the ACL want mandatory filtering, and not something that I have a choice as to whether I accept it, or not. The biggest problem is that Labor have efffectively sold it as a ‘porn’ filter, which the leaked ACML ‘blacklist’ shows is hogwash – as it goes much, much deeper. Google are pulling out of China because of censorship, and have just told Mr Conroy that they will not voluntarily censor the net in Oz. Where are we headed?

    Holly Doel-Mackaway with Save the Children, the largest independent children’s rights agency in the world, said educating kids and parents was the way to empower young people to be safe internet users. Doel-Mackaway noted the claims by the internet industry that the filters would be easily bypassed, would not block content found on peer-to-peer networks and chat rooms and would be in danger of being broadened to include legitimate content such as regular pornography, political views, pro-abortion sites and online gambling. Enter the ACL! Remember ACL Jim Wallace’s comment: “To be truly effective… the list of sites to be blacklisted be continuously updated and that the parameters for blacklisting sites and material are similarly continuously reviewed,”[ACL Press Release, February ’08]. Find out more about the incursion of right-wing groups – Australian Internet Filtering Legislation & The Hard Facts About Censorship: http://internet-censorship-australia.blogspot.com/

    Please get the message out to all your crew, and write a one paragraph letter to your MP that you will not accept anything other than ‘opt-in’ filtering. You have a few days before this draconian legislation is tabled in parliament. Wake up, Australia, and act!

    If you just simply can’t believe this is actually happening, then spend a minute with the Electronic Frontiers document – http://www.efa.org.au/main/wp-content/uploads/2010/02/2010-EFA-DBCDE-Transparency.pdf – “We believe that the proposal articulated by the Labor Government will be ineffective in achieving its goals and will severely infringe the liberties of Australians and the trust that Australians have in the National Classification Scheme (NCS) and the democratic process.” Please pass this on urgently! MOST important: write to your MP: http://nocleanfeed.com/action.html

  93. CID

    Good God! There is nothing exploitative or the tiniest bit pornographic about these photos. They’re cute kids playing the way nature intended. My (white, if it makes any difference) kids (3 and 1) can be seen nude in the pool or on one of Sydney’s Northern Beaches most hot days, and there’s nothing wrong with that at all. If someone’s getting off on that then it’s them that need to be dealt with, not my kids who need to be puritanised and punished.

  94. Ms Naughty

    Micae don’t you think it’s more than a little bit racist to assume that the parents of white children are able to give informed consent to a photographer but that aborigines can’t?

  95. James Bennett

    Sorry Arcady ,

    I plead guilty of unknowing copycattery.

  96. James Bennett

    I suggest we immediately enforce the wearing of the Burka ( Burkha ? ) for all children, particularly the little darker ones with uneducated parents.

  97. Arcady

    If any image of child nakedness is considered exploitation, then how much WORSE are cases of REAL children whose parents let them go nude in public to swim at public beaches or pools? Actually, even children in swimming costumes are probably wearing far too little – this must be child exploitation too as they might be SEEN by other people, and who knows what those people might be THINKING?

    Perhaps we need to lock up those parents for child abuse, and introduce burkas as standard uniform for all Australian kids, both in and out of the water.

  98. CliffG

    I’m most decidedly not a paedophile! But doesn’t anyone else think these images are beautiful? Whatever happened to the idea that the nude body is beautiful? And surely naked children can be an expression of joy and beauty and energy and a world that isn’t constantly being sexualised. Can’t they be seen beyond sex?
    Sometimes the sickness is in the eye of the beholder, or the eye of those who want to see everything as sexual or risky. I can see why many people would buy these cards and may even regard them as a photographic expression of the innocence of a native people whose world has been destroyed by invasion. Here they are in their element natural and free. If my wife and I happened on these children swimming and enjoying themselves with our cameras we would most likely photograph them, too.
    But watch me get shot down in flames by the sexualisers!

  99. Mark Hurd

    I agree that this should not be considered p-rn, but if it is we need to delete the email and our browser cache immediately to provide a defence:

    http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/sa/consol_act/clca1935262/s63a.html

  100. micae

    Anne Geddes subjects are taken with the informed advice of their parents. The parents of the subjects of the indigenous children postcards are – statistically speaking – uneducated, and – statistically speaking – very poor.
    To compare the two as equal cases is rather cruel, in my view.

  101. Ms Naughty

    Anne Geddes takes photos of nude white children and makes her living that way. Shall we arrest her as well?

  102. gerard

    It is high time that with the photographs of naked children we should seriously think of asking Hetty Johnson to also boycot the blatant display of bananas at Big W.

    Worse, yesterday I noticed an elderly gentleman, obviously having underage fantasies, while eating an erect banana in full sight of the public in The Domain.

    What about aubergines, zucchinis.? Be aware, but not erect.

    http://oosterman.wordpress.com/

  103. micae

    This is a good article. The double standards whereby such postcards are socially acceptable if the subjects are indigenous children but unacceptable if they are mainstream children usually remain invisible to us.
    A few years ago a teacher gave me the following insight – ‘racism is not necessarily what you do but also what you do not do, or see.’
    Thank you for your article placing this topic into our view and consciousness. Also for making us conscious of a further example of the double standards in our society, where once again, the innocent and undefended amongst us are abused.

  104. Ms Naughty

    Hello, moral panic. You can’t be seriously saying the photos in this post are equivalent to child porn? Are we going to be so paranoid about pedophilia now that simple depictions of nudity will have people up in arms? Apparently: according to that CETS listing, mere nudity is enough to qualify a photo as child porn. That’s just crazy.

    It’s also ridiculous that cartoons are considered to be CEM as well.

  105. Stevo the Working Twistie

    If you see anything s-xual or p-rnographic in these images, then I pity you and suggest you seek help. You have a dirty, poisoned mind. If you believe the rest of us should have restrictions placed on what we can see based on the fact that you get some weird titillation from viewing it yourself, then you are no better than the imams who insist women wear the burqa because otherwise men won’t be able to control themselves. And while we’re on the subject of damaging children, how healthy do you think the next generations will be if they are brought up to believe that any sight of a naked person is dirty and deviant?

  106. Ian Bryant

    Didn’t know p-rnography was a crime Mark.

  107. Mark Hurd

    IANALB my understanding of the law is that if these are considered child p-rn of any sort all of us who have downloaded these pictures, and that includes the Sole email Subscribers, are guilty of p-rnography.

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